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No. 7 Toyota Sets Final Practice Pace Before Crashing

Kamui Kobayashi sets fastest lap in FP3 before co-driver Lopez crashes No. 7 Toyota…

Photo: MPS Agency

Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi set the pace in Free Practice 3 for the 1000 Miles of Sebring but his car ended up with damage after an accident for his co-driver Jose Maria Lopez.

Kobayashi further improved on the fastest lap of the FIA World Endurance Championship’s season-opening visit to Sebring with a time of 1:45.783 in the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

Later in the session, Lopez lost control of the same car at the Turn 17 right-hander with just over three minutes to go. The Toyota spun mid-corner before striking the edge of the left-side tire barrier at the exit of the turn, causing damage to its right-rear corner.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe vice president Kazuki Nakajima told WEC pit lane reporter Louise Beckett: “It’s not ideal and it’s tough for the mechanics especially.

“The good thing is that Jose seems to be OK. It was not a huge crash, so I’m sure we can recover from here. We tried to learn from the video what we should prepare.

“The guys are already on the case so hopefully we can do that as soon as possible.”

Lopez’s accident combined with a Turn 10 spin for the No. 50 Ferrari 499P of Nicklas Nielsen to bring out a red flag that signaled the end of the 60-minute session.

Kobayashi’s leading time was 0.6 seconds quicker than the second-placed effort from Brendon Hartley in the No. 8 Toyota.

Nielsen’s Ferrari ended up third in the Hypercar order, a shade under a second off the Toyota pace, courtesy of a 1:46.777 lap time from Antonio Fuoco.

The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R finished fourth after Alex Lynn made an improvement with seven minutes to go, moving the American team’s LMDh car above the No. 94 Peugeot 9X8 and the best of the Penske-run Porsche 963s.

JOTA led the way in LMP2 as Pietro Fittipaldi reeled off a time of 1:50.128 aboard the British team’s No. 28 Oreca 07 Gibson.

Fittipaldi narrowly beat United Autosports driver Phil Hanson, while the other cars from JOTA and United came through in third and fourth within the same two-tenths.

NorthWest AMR edged ahead of GR Racing at the sharp end of the GTE-Am category, with Nicki Thiim clocking a 1:59.030 in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

Riccardo Pera ended up just 0.043 seconds behind him in the No. 86 Porsche 911 RSR-19, while Ferrari 488 GTE Evos from Kessel Racing and AF Corse were third and fourth.

In addition to the session-ending red flag, Free Practice 3 included two Full Course Yellow periods.

The first occurred almost immediately when the Vanwall Vandervell 680 Gibson stopped with an unspecified issue just after leaving the pits, while the second was caused by D’station Racing’s Aston Martin spinning into the Turn 17 tires just before halfway.

RESULTS: Free Practice 3

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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